There’s no shortage of evidence around the effectiveness of high intensity strength training – you may have experienced the remarkable results for yourself. But to get the most reward from your efforts in the shortest amount of time, there are some rules you should lock in.
The 10 rules of HIT strength training
(plus one strong recommendation)
1. Train hard
The intensity of effort (how hard you work) must be high to stimulate change. From a practical level, maximum intensity means reaching momentary muscle failure during a given set of exercise. This increases the odds of gaining strength and size.
2. Train progressively
This simply means consistently sending a message to your muscles that they can’t meet the demands of hard exercise by attempting to better your last workout repetition or resistance level. Remember, no message, no improvement.
3. Train consistently
On-again, off-again training doesn’t allow you to get past an “exercise neural adaption period” (approximately two weeks). That’s because neural factors in gaining strength always precede changes in the muscle itself (muscular factors). To assure that muscular strength changes occur, commit to two strength sessions per week.
4. Keep your workouts brief
Intensity dictates the duration and frequency of workouts. If you work HARD, you won’t last long – a physical fact. Workouts must be brief – and they will be – if the effort required to stimulate change is employed.
5. Give your muscles time to grow between workouts
The body is capable of performing any amount of exercise but not capable of recovering from any amount. If the body’s recovery reserves are constantly depleted from too much exercise, the odds of muscular growth are stymied. Allow a minimum of 2 days, and no more than four days, rest between workouts.
6. Slow speed of movement
Good form begins with a slow speed of movement that allows you to feel the weight during every part of the movement. Remember, the goal of an exercise is to place as much of a demand as you can on the muscles you’re working without wrecking your body in the process.
7. Keep accurate records of your workouts
Records help to ensure you’re training progressively, to objectively evaluate the effects of changes in your programme on your progress and to determine whether you need to modify your programme in any way.
8. Consume a post-exercise meal
Consuming the proper ratio of protein and carbohydrate within 45 minutes post-exercise initiates the repair and building of muscle tissue in a super-compensated fashion that enhances improvement in more muscle and less fat.
9. Get enough sleep
While the amount needed varies between individuals, it’s an absolute requirement for maximising muscular strength and size. Moreover, sleep deprivation undermines your efforts by reducing pro-muscle building hormones like growth hormone, and increasing the catabolic hormone cortisol.
10. Move quickly as your condition improves
A rapid pace between exercises increases the intensity and the cardiovascular component of a workout.
Recommendation: Work out with a trainer
This isn't a rule, but a strong recommendation (or this would be called ‘The 11 Rules’ instead). Getting a trainer is another way of saying “supervised”. A good trainer will supervise you through harder, slower, more productive workouts. Which all adds up to better, faster results.